Doctoral Art Practice Research for The Ecological Turn

Irish-based New Zealander's PhD by Practice 'The Ecological Turn' examines the social power of situated art and ecology practices


The art sector has a key role to engage communities in sustainable living. Undertaking an innovative art practice-led PhD, Cathy Fitzgerald has developed a guiding theory-method framework to improve understanding of the value and social power of eco-social art practices that are embedded in communities. At an international cultural policy level, UNESCO, IFACCA and others recognise culture is the under-acknowledged 4th pillar to promote sustainability. However, incorporating ecological insights into an art practice is complex. Cathy draws on her previous career in research science at Ruakura AgResearch in Hamilton with extensive contemporary art practice and research through the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland, to clarify social art practices that seek to address urgent environmental concerns.

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Cathy Fitzgerald PhD | eco-social artist | educator | researcher

I explore new ideas and practices for eco-social well being by
bringing art and non-art practices together in my creative practice. I
also offer Ecoliteracy learning for the arts at

Through my practice and an art practice-theory PhD "The Ecological Turn", I
have developed a guiding theory-method framework to articulate the
context and workings of long-term eco-social art practices. These vital
practices activate ecoliteracy and agency for environmental change in
communities. Much of my PhD drew on my experiences and challenges, and
the review of others' pioneering creative practices' that are responding
to ecological concerns. My own transversal practice reflects on the
transformation of the small conifer plantation that I live with,
Hollywood forest, toward new-to-Ireland, Close-to-Nature forestry. I
bring previous experience in biological science research and interests
in environmental philosophy, policy development and ecocide-Rights of
Nature law developments into the mix.


Somehow an eco-social art practice allows me to connect and move across
these various strands of interest to create a new agency for myself and
the human and non-human neighbours I depend on and live with.


Hollywood forest is the smallest Close-to-Nature forest in Ireland; its
growing happily near Mt Leinster and the Blackstairs mountains in South
East Ireland.

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Written by

Dr. Cathy Fitzgerald

28 Feb 2019

Interests : Ecoliteracy for the Arts art and ecology, creative practice and research, art and ecology theory and methodology, art and sustainability policy development, ecoliteracy for the arts Personal Description Hi,